Denounce and Reject

30 04 2008

Well said.

The question now is whether or not Democratic voters out in North Carolina and Indiana will be convince by Obama’s words.

I have to admit that though I have not completely lost hope, much of it has been slowly oozing out of me during these last few days.





Generationally Focused

25 04 2008

Andrew Sullivan is truly a fountain of insights. I suppose this partially explains why I don’t understand the baby boomer media class myself.

Leave aside the actual merits of the current neocon-Clinton-Limbaugh campaign against Obama – that he’s linked to the Weather Underground, that his pastor is a “racist”, that he cannot appeal to Reagan Democrats, that he’s another McGovern, that he’s a closet Communist, etc. etc. What strikes me is the energy with which these pundits actually derive from these associations and debates. It’s quite clear that they really anger up the blood of a certain class of people. And yet they don’t me, particularly. They seem pretty irrelevant to me, in the context of an election about a major war, a teetering economy, a weakened constitution, a mounting level of debt, a plummeting dollar, and a warming planet. I understand that this is politics, that these are vulnerabilities of associations, that these issues have some traction and a sliver of justification, but I still can’t get that worked up about them. Why, I wonder?

When you think about these controversies, you [begin] to realize just how generationally-focused they are. For a lot of people under 40, the Weather Underground sound like an Austin Powers out-take or a rock band.





Biggie Must be Turning Over in His Grave

25 04 2008

But I have to give it to them this video is entertaining in that pop culture minstrelism kind of way.

The whole Darth Vader reference was a bit too creepy for me.

One day, perhaps a year or two from now, someone is going to make a documentary of all these 2008 election YouTube videos deconstructing race, gender, class and media representation and some old fart of a professor will praise it as a paradigm shifting event in all things pomo.

But until then I am just gonna brush my shoulders off.

(H/T: Andrew Sullivan)





Pennsylvania is Ohio Squared

23 04 2008

Spin or no spin, coming from 18 points down in the polls to losing by ten (55 -45) is a lost, but one that came in line with Senator Obama’s fairly modest goal before the Pennsylvania primary. According to Talking Points Memo, Obama told a group of donors on a conference call in March that his goal was to finish within 10 points, which is only a shade better than the 54 -44 lost he suffered in Ohio. So judging him by his own standards, he barely met his goal.

But we need to consider what the initial prognosticators were saying just after Obama’s lost in the Democratic Texas in Ohio primaries. Many proclaimed gloom and doom for the Illinois Senator because the demographics did not seem to favor him in the Keystone State. Dan Balz of the Washington Post in particular said:

There are fewer young people and more old people in Pennsylvania than in Ohio, which is good for Clinton and bad for Obama. In Ohio, 44 percent of the Democratic electorate was under age 45 and Obama carried them by 54 percent to 45 percent. In Pennsylvania those voters may represent only a quarter of the electorate. In Ohio, voters over age 65 comprised 14 percent of the electorate and Clinton carried them 72 percent to 26 percent. In Pennsylvania, they may account for a quarter of the Democratic vote.

There are fewer college graduates and more non-college graduates in Pennsylvania than in Ohio, both among the population at large and among white voters. That, too, spells trouble for Obama.

Balz’s take at the time struck me as rather alarmist, but he had a point. By Balz’s logic, however, Obama should have very well lost by considerably more than just 9 or 10, since as Balz’s claimed, “In terms of demographics, Pennsylvania is Ohio squared.”

So, I don’t think its a stretch to say that while the Clinton campaign deserves a lot of credit for winning decisively, for Obama to finish within 9 or 10 points in a state like Pennsylvania after Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a monster, the nasty Geraldine Ferraro controversy, the Rev. Wright affair, the bittergate scandal that wasn’t, and that farce of a debate on ABC last Wednesday, is still quite a feat.

As you can see from the graph below, however, Clinton had similar showings in Ohio and in Pennsylvania. But a close look at the margin column for both OH and PA demonstrates that Obama cut into her support among white men, among the elderly, white Protestants, and beat her among Independents and the college educated. Its not a win, but not a terrible showing either.

(H/T: Real Clear Politics for the Graph)





Madame Obliterator?

22 04 2008

When asked whether or not the United States should treat an attack on Israel by Iran as an attack against Americans at the ABC News Democratic debate last Wednesday, Senator Clinton gave a fairly well thought out answer even if it was a bit too hawkish for my liking. She began by saying, “Of course I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States, but I would do the same with other countries in the region.”

At these proforma debates you have to get the tough talk out there first to avoid being tagged as a dovish liberal eager to coddle dictators, especially if you are a Democrat.

Fine. I get that.

But to her credit she went on to note what can be achieved through isolating Iran with aggressive diplomacy. Clinton emphasized the need to create what she called an “umbrella” security agreement vis-visa Iran. She claim it would afford the U.S., under her administration, three tools. First, is it would provide leverage if we ever choose to negotiate Iran directly. Secondly, it would send the message that the U.S. is serious about containing the spread of nuclear arms in the region, since a nuclear Iran may ignite an arms race in the Middle East.

And thirdly, it would presumably send a message to states elsewhere that the U.S. is serious about restoring the non-proliferation regime that the Bush administration tore asunder with the one very notable exception of North Korea.

She concluded:

Therefore we have got to have this process that reaches out, beyond even who we would put under the security umbrella, to get the rest of the world on our side to try to impose the kind of sanctions and diplomatic efforts that might prevent this from occurring.

That’s a solid answer in the context of these sound bite driven debates, and quite frankly much better than the bungled response by Obama where he understandably tried to side step the premise of the question altogether. Our Middle East foreign policy is done a real disservice by presuming that U.S. and Israeli security interests should be tightly aligned. In other words, the U.S. should not operate as a guarantor of Israel’s security. It is after all, the sole nuclear power in the region, the most dominant force there, and has been the victor in virtually every war its fought since its inception.

As for the merits of Clinton’s answer, I doubt that what Clinton recommended in terms of a security umbrella is achievable. I suspect other countries in the region are interested in containing Iranian influence, but not necessarily to align themselves with Israeli security interests. And it would be difficult to make that distinction with a U.S. led region wide security initiative intended to knee cap a nuclear armed Iran. Driving a wedge between Iran and Syria, containing Iranian influence among Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon, i.e. Hezbollah, may be more of an immediate concern for other nations in the region.

But whatever. I never served on the National Security Council to any president or on some fancy Iraq Study group with luminaries from the national security establishment. So what do I know?

One thing I do know, however, is that the the National Intelligence Estimate, a document representing the definitive judgements of all the 15 U.S. intelligence agencies, in December stated that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and unlikely to resume them in the next decade. The Bush administration has done its best to dismiss the findings of the NIE and exaggerate the threat posed by Iran by citing its incidenary anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric and support to various insurgent Shiite factions in Iraq.

And during the debate I was eager for either Clinton or Obama to mention something about this. I was hoping that it would be Obama, since he has continuously said he will end the mindset that got us into the war in Iraq. But alas neither he nor Clinton even mentioned the letters NIE in one breath.

After gaining some measure of confidence in Clinton’s response that she put to bed the bizarre hawkishness that lead her to vote for the Kyle-Liberman amendment, a measure that Senator Webb called “Cheney’s Fondest Pipe Dream” Madame Inevitable heads to Good Morning America and turns into Ms. Obliterator.

Clinton further displayed tough talk in an interview airing on “Good Morning America” Tuesday. ABC News’ Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran,” Clinton said. “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

Huh? Well, I suppose I spoke to soon.





Hope Versus Fear: A Tale of Two Clintons

21 04 2008

Compare this new Clinton campaign ad released on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary to what ex-President Bill Clinton said just a few years ago about hope and fear.

Watch the Hillary Clinton ad:

Watch Bill Clinton remarks on hope:

(H/T: TPM)





Russia TV on the Dem Race in PA

21 04 2008

If the following news clip from Russia Today TV is an indication of how the Democratic race is covered in mother Russia, then clearly its not just the American media that’s enthralled by the horse race atmosphere of the Democratic primary.

Whoa. That Amish dude was real sexist. I mean damn.

That said, I am at a loss for why after attending all those Obama and Clinton campaign rallies that the reporter choose to interview Republican voting Amish folk for a story on the Democratic primary.